The Yankees have until midnight to make their decisions about whether to offer arbitration to their departing free agents. Johnny Damon is a Class A free agent, Xavier Nady and Andy Pettitte are Class B, and offering arbitration to any of those three would land the Yankees an extra draft pick (or two) if that player were to sign with another team. Of course, if any of those players were to accept arbitration, the Yankees would have no choice but to re-sign him at a price determined by a third party.
At mlb.com, Tom Singer wrote that he doesn’t expect the Yankees to offer arbitration to anyone. I agree that offering arbitration to Nady and Pettitte makes no sense (puts too much money on the table for Nady, Pettitte seems unlikely to sign elsewhere anyway) but Damon is an interesting case. If he were to accept, Damon would probably earn more than the Yankees would like to pay, but a one-year deal with Damon might not be the worst-case scenario for left field. If Damon were to decline arbitration — that’s what I think would happen — the Yankees would land two extra draft picks.
Basically, does the risk of overpaying Damon for one year outweigh the potential benefit of two draft picks?
By the way, those compensation draft picks can be huge. David Wright, anyone? Yankees right fielder Nick Swisher was a compensation draft pick of the Oakland Athletics. He was compensation for… you guessed it… Johnny Damon.